Over 600 of you participated in Harp Column’s 30 Day Practice Challenge in January. And the winners are…

 

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Day 30

Today’s Topic: Tuning

There’s a saying about harpists that we spend half of our time tuning and spend the other half playing out of tune.

Suggested goal: We put tuning your harp in our list of techniques, because just like scales or harmonics, tuning your harp well (in under two hours) takes methodical, daily practice. If you don’t already have a tuning method, today’s the day the find one. Talk to your teacher to get their advice, find out how other harpists tune, or come up with a method that works for you. Tuning your harp the same way every day will help you get faster and will also help train your ear.

Practice Tip: Pin your back against a wall

Some people work better with a looming deadline. So if you need to light a fire under your practicing, commit to a public performance. Nothing inspires dedicated practicing like a looming concert date!

Further Inspiration

Throughout our challenge we’ll be posting links to Harp Column articles and videos that address the topics of the day. If you are a Harp Column subscriber or Harp Column Academy member, login to each site for access. 

Five-Minute Practice Session

Got five minutes? Think that’s not enough time to get anything accomplished at the harp? Think again! There is plenty you can get done in five minutes as Therese Kidd-O’Brien shows us in this How To Play article from our Jan/Feb 2006 issue. Download it now

How to Tune Your Harp

Harp Column Academy master teacher Lynne Aspnes shows us the finer points of tuning in this lesson.

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Day 29

Today’s Topic: Avoiding Buzzes

Ugly buzzes can mar an otherwise beautiful performance.

Suggested goal: Diagnosing exactly why you are buzzing in a phrase requires listening in great detail to your playing—sometimes we hear buzzes so much our ears become deaf to them. Focus your attention entirely on your sound so you can determine exactly where and why you are buzzing.

Practice Tip: Rethink your practice order

In what order do you practice your pieces? Favorite pieces first? Maybe you save the best for last? Perhaps you start with your shortest piece and save the long ones until the end? Try practicing in order of the focus and energy required. Maybe you are learning notes in a new piece or memorizing a section—those will take a lot of concentration, so work them first, then move on to pieces you are working on with less intensity—pieces you are polishing or maintaining.

Further Inspiration

Throughout our challenge we’ll be posting links to Harp Column articles and videos that address the topics of the day. If you are a Harp Column subscriber or Harp Column Academy member, login to each site for access. 

Gold Star Student: 5 tips to become a model student

Harpists of any age can become model students by following the five steps author Anne Sullivan outlines in this article from our Sept/Oct 2016 issue. Read it now

How to Avoid Buzzing

Those harp strings can be tight quarters for your fingers. Find out how to avoid ugly buzzing sounds that can creep into our playing when we’re not careful in this video from Harp Column Academy master teacher Isabelle Perrin.

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Day 28

Today’s Topic: Trills

Playing thrilling trills is a beautiful addition to your technical arsenal.

Suggested goal: One of the keys to playing beautiful trills is to replace your fingers as late as possible so you don’t choke off the sound. Start slowly, alternating RH 2-1 and LH 2-1, only placing one finger in advance. See if you can trill slowly without any buzzing or replacing noise. Then gradually build up the speed of your trill.

Practice Tip

Make an appointment

Dishes, email, laundry, errands—it’s easy to let everything else your to-do list push practicing to the bottom. If you schedule your practice time in your calendar just as you would a doctor’s appointment or coffee with a friend, it goes from being an “if-I-have-time” task to a must-do appointment.

Further Inspiration

Throughout our challenge we’ll be posting links to Harp Column articles and videos that address the topics of the day. If you are a Harp Column subscriber or Harp Column Academy member, login to each site for access. 

How to Maximize your Practice Time

Practice time is a precious commodity; find out how to make the most of it in this article from our May/June 2010 issue. Download it now

How to Play Trills

Harp Column Academy master teacher Lynne Aspnes breaks down trills into easy-to-follow steps in this video lesson.

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Day 27

Today’s Topic: Muffling

Stopping the strings from ringing can be just as important as playing them in the first place.

Suggested goal: Whether your goal is to muffle a single note, a range of the harp, or to quickly stop the whole harp from ringing, work to execute your muffle as efficiently and quietly as possible. Spend time today thinking about the different ways to muffle and examining if your technique is working. Pay special attention to the bass range of the harp, where touching ringing strings can bring on more unwanted noise.

Practice Tip: Listen to a recording

There’s a saying in the jazz world that the best players are those with the biggest record collections. There is no question that listening to many different players will help you be a better player. Plus, listening to someone you admire play passages that you may be having trouble with will provide encouragement that those spots aren’t so difficult after all.

Further Inspiration

Throughout our challenge we’ll be posting links to Harp Column articles and videos that address the topics of the day. If you are a Harp Column subscriber or Harp Column Academy member, login to each site for access. 

Lesson Learned

What if you could ask veteran harpists to name the most valuable thing they ever learned from their teacher? This article from our July-August 2014 issue does exactly that. Read it now

How to Muffle

Harp Column Academy master teacher Lynne Aspnes shows everything you need to know about muffling.

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Day 26

Today’s Topic: Thumb Slides

This handy harp technique can help with descending scales, or just as a way to get quickly from one note to the next.

Suggested goal: Create your own thumb slide exercise by playing five consecutive descending notes starting with a slide, using the fingering 1-1-2-3-4. Listen to be sure the first two notes—both played by the thumb—are even in sound with each other, as well as with the fingers that follow. Repeat the exercise down the harp hands separately, then together if you feel comfortable.

Practice Tip: Save run-throughs for dessert

It’s tempting to start your practice session with a run-through of your favorite piece. But unless you have a concert tomorrow or your piece is already perfect, a run-through isn’t going to help fix problems. Work on sections first—perhaps starting in a different place each day—and save run-throughs for an end-of-practice reward.

Further Inspiration

Throughout our challenge we’ll be posting links to Harp Column articles and videos that address the topics of the day. If you are a Harp Column subscriber or Harp Column Academy member, login to each site for access. 

Getting to the Heart of Practicing

Elzbieta Szmyt tells how to get the most out of your practice time in this article from our July-August 2006 issue. Download it now

How to Play Thumb Slides

Harp Column Academy master teacher Jaymee Haefner tells how to keep from being all thumbs when playing thumb slides.

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Day 25

Today’s Topic: Harmonics

It’s one of our most magical sounds! How harmonious are your harmonics?

Suggested goal: Harmonics are not difficult to play if you find the magic spot on the string. But if you don’t, you’re likely to wind up with a dull thud instead. Today, practice finding that magic spot. Use your eyes to divide the string in half. Approach your harmonic away from the string and have a Zen moment with your harp—just go for it! If you miss, identify exactly what adjustment you need to make (higher or lower) to get the perfect sound before trying again.

Practice Tip: It’s not difficult once you learn how to do it.

Having trouble with a particular skill, like harmonics? Instead of getting frustrated, take a cue from harp legend Carlos Salzedo, and remind yourself that it won’t be difficult once you learn how to do it. Trust yourself that it will come with steady, slow, and correct repetition.

Further Inspiration

Throughout our challenge we’ll be posting links to Harp Column articles and videos that address the topics of the day. If you are a Harp Column subscriber or Harp Column Academy member, login to each site for access. 

Coloring Harmonics

Ann Yeung revels the secret to great harmonics in this article from our July-August 2011 issue. Download it now.

How to Play Harmonics

Let Harp Column Academy master teacher Isabelle Perrin show you the correct technique for playing left and right hand harmonics.

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Day 24

Today’s Topic: Breathing

Is your breathing benefitting your music?

Suggested goal: Believe it or not, it’s pretty easy to forget to breathe while you are playing. When we get tense, our breathing can become shallow or hurried, and sometimes we even unknowingly hold our breath. Examine your breathing while you play. Is your breathing deep and relaxed or shallow and tense? Try to breathe with your musical phrases, just as you would breathe with a sentence as you speak.

Practice Tip: Take a breather

We practice difficult techniques to make them feel natural and effortless in our playing. Breathing deeply with a musical phrase may not feel normal or comfortable to you, so practice it just as you would any other technique. Before you play a note today, practice some long deep breaths at the harp. Breathe in slowly through your nose without raising your shoulders, then breathe out at the same slow pace.

Further Inspiration

Throughout our challenge we’ll be posting links to Harp Column articles and videos that address the topics of the day. If you are a Harp Column subscriber or Harp Column Academy member, login to each site for access. 

When Willpower is Not Enough

In this member blog, harpist Dani Bash takes a lesson from behavioral economics to help motivate herself to reach practice goals. Read now for free

How to Breathe

Harp Column Academy master teacher Isabelle Perrin explains why breathing is important—both physically and musically—and shows you how to improve your breathing at the harp.

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Day 23

Today’s Topic: Levers and pedals

Are your lever and pedal changes carefully planned or left to random chance?

Suggested goal: Examine your lever and/or pedal technique. Are you making each change in the most efficient way possible? Pull out a chromatic etude and spend time really thinking about the best way to execute the motions of moving levers or pedals.

Practice Tip: Make it fun

There’s no rule that says practicing has to be a chore. Look for ways to make practicing more fun. Use rewards (like yesterday’s trick with M&M’s!), games, or anything else that helps you keep your focus on the music and enjoy spending time behind the harp.

Further Inspiration

Throughout our challenge we’ll be posting links to Harp Column articles and videos that address the topics of the day. If you are a Harp Column subscriber or Harp Column Academy member, login to each site for access. 

Perfecting Lever and Pedal Technique

Jaymee Haefner tells how to get perfect pedals and levers in her article for our July-August 2010 issue. Download it now

How to Move Levers

Master teacher and lever harpist Sunita Staneslow will show you how to make your lever changes seamless and easy in her video for Harp Column Academy.

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Day 22

Today’s Topic: Playing Notes Together

Now that we’re approaching the end of the challenge, it’s time to fine tune some details. Today, pay attention to whether your fingers are playing exactly together when you play multiple notes.

Suggested goal: Go back to the interval drill you did on Day 12, and ask yourself if your fingers are sounding exactly together. Does one note come before the other or are they perfectly even? Now try a block chord of three or four notes. Unless you are aiming for a rolled chord, your fingers should play—and sound—at precisely the same time.

Practice Tip: Play it 10 times perfectly

Do you ever practice something until you get it right and then move on? Think of it this way: if it took you, say, ten times to get it right, that’s nine times you got it wrong! Not exactly a confidence booster or a great way to build muscle memory. Instead, play slowly enough to be perfect and don’t move on until you’ve played the passage ten times in a row perfectly. (Try using M&Ms as counters, and reward yourself for perfect practicing!). Now you have the confidence to know you’re going to nail that passage!

Further Inspiration

Throughout our challenge we’ll be posting links to Harp Column articles and videos that address the topics of the day. If you are a Harp Column subscriber or Harp Column Academy member, login to each site for access. 

Make Friends With Your Metronome

Megan Sesma provides even more ways to make friends with your favorite practice tool in her article for our May-June 2011 issue. Download it now

How to Play Together

Master teacher Isabelle Perrin will show you how—and why—to play perfectly together in her video for Harp Column Academy.

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Day 21

Today’s Topic: Scales (part 3)

Scales are another technique we could spend a month on. There’s nothing that will reveal a weak technique quicker than sloppy scales, and the opposite is also true!

Suggested goal: Sink even further into your scales today by putting together everything we’ve talked about this week. Crossovers, crossunders, evenness of sound—all of these elements contribute to a great—or not so great—scale. Take your scale further up and back down the harp, and aim to stay in the middle of the strings, maintaining your hand position as you move from octave to octave. Play one or both hands together depending on your comfort level.

Practice Tip: Play it slowly

Raise your hand if you’ve ever zipped through a problem spot and thought to yourself “I’ll fix it later.” Why not fix it right now by playing no faster than you can play perfectly? We couldn’t agree more with today’s inspirational quote!

Further Inspiration

Throughout our challenge we’ll be posting links to Harp Column articles and videos that address the topics of the day. If you are a Harp Column subscriber or Harp Column Academy member, login to each site for access. 

Take our advice

Top teachers give their best nuggets of wisdom in this feature article from our January-February 2010 issue. Download it now

How to Play Scales

Harp Column Academy master teacher Isabelle Perrin dives further into scales both up and down the harp in her video.

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Day 20

Today’s Topic: Scales (part 2)

Remember all that work we did on crossunders a few days ago? Let’s put it into practice today as we work on playing an eight-note scale with one hand.

Suggested goal: Play an eight-note scale very slowly using one hand. Check to be sure that you’re leaving a big space between your thumb and fourth finger as you cross under. Are all your notes sounding evenly, without any buzzing? In the beginning, give yourself extra time as you cross under to make sure everything is working properly. Ultimately, aim for a steady rhythm and pulse. Repeat with the other hand, and if you’re ready, hands together.

Practice Tip: Get out the metronome

Not only is the metronome useful for checking rhythm and tempo in your solo pieces, but it’s also an invaluable aid for helping with technique practice, like today’s scale exercise. Choose a tempo for your scales even slower than you think you need—perhaps allowing for one click per note—and use the metronome to help keep you honest. Increase the tempo only when you’re playing flawlessly.

Further Inspiration

Throughout our challenge we’ll be posting links to Harp Column articles and videos that address the topics of the day. If you are a Harp Column subscriber or Harp Column Academy member, login to each site for access. 

All about crossunders

Tune in to Facebook to watch Harp Column Academy expert Angelica Hairston’s video on crossunders. Just visit our Facebook page and click on “Videos” Watch now for free

Rhythm Review

Give your metronome a workout with rhythm exercises from Harp Column founder Kimberly Rowe’s article in our November-December 2005 issue. Download it now

How to Play Scales (part 2)

In her second video of a two-part series on scales, master teacher Lynne Aspnes shows you how to play a beautiful scale using one hand.

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Day 19

Today’s Topic: Scales (part 1)

Today we are going to focus on playing a simple scale—a group of eight consecutive notes—with two hands, four notes in each hand. Listen to each of the eight notes. Are they all even in volume, tone quality, and rhythm?

Suggested goal: Have your hands positioned in the same general vicinity on the strings, with your left-hand thumb slightly higher than your right-hand fourth finger. Then work toward hearing eight even notes that avoid a buzz or sizzle as you hand off the scale from your left hand to your right hand.

Practice Tip: How are you feeling?

Now that we’re almost three weeks into this practice challenge, check in with your body. Are you holding tension anywhere in your hands or arms? How about elsewhere in your body—your neck, back, or even your face? Relaxing while you practice will help you avoid fatigue and even injury that can occur over time.

Further Inspiration

Throughout our challenge we’ll be posting links to Harp Column articles and videos that address the topics of the day. If you are a Harp Column subscriber or Harp Column Academy member, login to each site for access. 

Preparing to practice: practice habits

What you do before you practice is almost as important as the practice itself. Author Melia Repko helps you prepare to practice in this How to Play article from our Nov/Dec 2006 issue of Harp Column. Download it now

How to Play Scales (part 1)

In the first of a two-part series on scales, master teacher Lynne Aspnes shows you how to achieve a beautiful and even scales using two hands.

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Day 18

Today’s Topic: Crossovers

The crossover is the sibling of the crossunder we worked on yesterday. A crossover is the technique of crossing your thumb over one of your fingers to play additional notes. If you drew a line on the strings where your fingers are playing them as you crossover, what direction would it go? You want to create a line that gently slopes down with the angle of the soundboard as your play your crossovers.

Suggested goal: What happens to your second and third fingers when you cross your thumb over your fourth finger? Do they pop up into “bunny ears,” or do they stay nicely tucked down as your thumb crosses over your thumb? Try to keep those middle two fingers “quiet and together” as you make your crossover.

Practice Tip: Schedule practice time when you are at your best

Are you and early bird or a night owl? Ideally, you want to practice when you are mentally and physically at your best each day, and avoid practicing when you can’t focus mentally or are physically worn out. Your best might be right after breakfast and coffee, or in the quiet calm of night. Whenever it is, try to schedule some practice time each day (or night).

Further Inspiration

Throughout our challenge we’ll be posting links to Harp Column articles and videos that address the topics of the day. If you are a Harp Column subscriber or Harp Column Academy member, login to each site for access. 

Kick the Habit

Bad habits form quickly. Learn if you are guilty of any of these bad habits and find out how to kick them to the curb once and for all from author Lynne Abbey-Lee in this feature article from our Nov/Dec 2009 issue. Download it now

How to Play Crossovers

The technique sibling of crossunders, crossovers share some of the same concepts. See how to play seamless crossovers if this video from Harp Column Academy master teacher Jaymee Haefner.

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Day 17

Today’s Topic: Crossunders

A crossunder is the technique in which you pass your fingers under your thumb in order to play additional notes. How confident are you in your crossunders? Are they smooth and relaxed or do you hold your breath and hope for the best every time you have to pass under? Evaluate your crossunder technique to make sure it is consistent, efficient, and relaxed.

Suggested goal: You ultimately want a crossunder technique that will ensure you pass your fingers under your thumb smoothly and accurately every time without fail, so start slowly and practice the same technique each time, keeping those second and third fingers from popping up into “bunny ears” as you cross your fourth finger under your thumb.

Practice Tip: Write on your music

Always keep your pencil handy as you practice. Write notes to yourself on your music. Your score should never look new! A well-marked piece of music will help you remember all of the little nuances that you are practicing into the piece.

Further Inspiration

Throughout our challenge we’ll be posting links to Harp Column articles and videos that address the topics of the day. If you are a Harp Column subscriber or Harp Column Academy member, login to each site for access. 

Starting from Square One: Teaching Basics to Beginners

Whether you’re a student or a teacher, you can pick up some useful tips in Susan Brady’s article on harp basics from our March/April 2007 issue. Download it now

How to Play Crossunders

Master teacher Jaymee Haefner shows you how to build clean and secure crossunders in this video on Harp Column Academy.

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Day 16

Today’s Topic: Rolled Chords

Sometimes called broken chords, rolled chords are a staple of many harp pieces. How do your rolled chords sound? Are they rhythmically even? Can you hear each note of the chord?

Suggested goal: Whether the chord you are rolling has three notes or eight notes or something in between, make sure you are hearing each note of the chord—especially those inner notes that can sometimes get lost.

Practice Tip: Identify problems

While it’s always fun to practice what we do well, you can make the most of your 20 minutes of technique practice by quickly identifying your problem spots, and focusing on those areas instead.

Further Inspiration

Throughout our challenge we’ll be posting links to Harp Column articles and videos that address the topics of the day. If you are a Harp Column subscriber or Harp Column Academy member, login to each site for access. 

Just roll with it

Not all rolled chords are created equally, Jaymee Haefner points out in her Learning Curve article from our Jan/Feb 2012 issue. Find out about the different styles of rolled chords and how and when to use them. Download it now

How to Play Rolled Chords

Balance between your fingers is the key to creating warm and even rolled chords, says Harp Column Academy master teacher Lynne Aspnes. Watch her lesson on playing rolled chords.

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Day 15

Practice Tip: Practice perfectly

Remember our Day 4 quote, “Practice makes permanent”? Aim to practice perfectly, so that you aren’t reinforcing bad habits. Don’t accept buzzing, wrong notes, or sloppy playing.

Further Inspiration

Throughout our challenge we’ll be posting links to Harp Column articles and videos that address the topics of the day. If you are a Harp Column subscriber or Harp Column Academy member, login to each site for access. 

Playing by shape

Whenever we place multiple notes on the harp, it helps to think of the shape of your fingers on the strings. Kela Walton tells how playing by shape can improve your speed in her article for our January-February 2011 issue. Download it now

How to Play Chords

Harp Column Academy master teacher Isabelle Perrin tells you everything you need to know to play beautiful chords.

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Today’s Topic: Chords

When you play multiple notes together, is each finger clean and even?

Suggested goal: You may have noticed a repeated theme here when we talk about “evenness.” It applies to nearly everything we do on the harp. Whether you’re playing a two-note interval, an arpeggio, or a three-or-more-note chord, the goal is to cultivate the same even sound with every finger. Today, spend time on block chords—that is, playing each note at exactly the same time. Play three and four note chords hands separately, then together listening to be sure each finger is even and that they are sounding at exactly the same time.

Day 14

Today’s Topic: Hand-over-hand arpeggios

Are your motions up and down the harp as ergonomic as they can be?

Suggested goal: Practice the motion of going up and down the harp, hand over hand. Try just moving your hands and arms at first, without playing. Then practice landing on the strings, and finally playing the strings. Aim to land in the middle of the strings without any wasted motion, and be sure you’re placing all your fingers together, rather than one at a time.

Practice Tip: Don’t start at the beginning.

Despite what you learned from the song “Do-Re-Mi,” the beginning is not always the very best place to start when it comes to practicing. Instead, zone in on problem spots and tackle them first.

Further Inspiration

Throughout our challenge we’ll be posting links to Harp Column articles and videos that address the topics of the day. If you are a Harp Column subscriber or Harp Column Academy member, login to each site for access. 

 Put Some Bliss in Your Gliss

While we’re going up and down the harp with arpeggios, take a minute to examine your glissando technique as well with this article by Jaymee Haefner from our March-April 2012 issue. Download it now

How to Play Hand-over-hand Arpeggios

Harp Column Academy master teacher Lynne Aspnes demonstrates hand-over-hand arpeggios.

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Day 13

Today’s Topic: Arpeggios

Arpeggio—it’s where the name “harp” comes from and it’s one of our most classic sounds! But how even are your arpeggios?

Suggested goal: Find a slow etude (such as those by Bochsa or Pozzoli) and work on simple arpeggios. Listen to each finger and make sure that each note of your arpeggio has the same clean, even sound.

Practice Tip: A little practice every day is better than cramming.

Cramming never worked in school, and it doesn’t work on the harp either. The only way to develop a full and consistent sound is to build the muscle memory you need to repeat the same technique motions fluidly every time you play.

Further Inspiration

Throughout our challenge we’ll be posting links to Harp Column articles and videos that address the topics of the day. If you are a Harp Column subscriber or Harp Column Academy member, login to each site for access. 

Harp Happiness: 12 Habits of Happy Harpists

In this feature article from our September-October 2014 issue, Anne Sullivan shares twelve great tips sure to have you smiling every time you sit down behind your harp. Read it now

How to Play Arpeggios

Harp Column Academy master teacher Sunita Staneslow shows the first steps to playing great arpeggios.

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Day 12

Today’s Topic: How to Play Intervals

Playing intervals is to simply play two notes at one time. Are your intervals clean and even or does one finger stand out?

Suggested goal: Practice intervals alone, hands separately and listen for a clean and even sound. Check to be sure you’re using good fingering. Not sure? Start here:

2nd—1 and 2
3rd—1 and 2
4th—1 and 3
5th—1 and 3
6th—1 and 3
7th— 1 and 4
octave—1 and 4

Practice Tip: Practice practicing

Practice takes practice. Approach your practice sessions the way an athlete would. Warm up, do technique exercises, and identify and work on deficiencies before you start playing the game—er, music.

Further Inspiration

Throughout our challenge we’ll be posting links to Harp Column articles and videos that address the topics of the day. If you are a Harp Column subscriber or Harp Column Academy member, login to each site for access. 

Practice Takes Practice

Discover the art of learning how to structure your practice session in this article from Jaymee Haefner’s Harmonic Curve series. Read it now

How to Play Intervals

Harp Column Academy master teacher Isabelle Perrin shows how to play intervals and how to determine which fingering to use.

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Day 11

Today’s Topic: Closing and following through (part 2)

Suggested goal: How does it feel to close? Where do your fingers rest after they close? Are they supple and relaxed or are you holding onto tension in your hands or arms? Consciously feel your hand relax as you close and follow through.

Practice Tip: Step away from the harp.

Closing is a skill you can practice away from the harp. Open and close your hands in front of you so you can see how your fingers close. Make sure your fingers aren’t curled up and you can see your nails. Make sure your hands are relaxed and your fingers are closing comfortably into your palm and your thumb rests on your second finger.

Further Inspiration

Throughout our challenge we’ll be posting links to Harp Column articles and videos that address the topics of the day. If you are a Harp Column subscriber or Harp Column Academy member, login to each site for access. 

Fundamentals of a good foundation

Legendary teachers Susann McDonald and Linda Wood explain the critical elements of a solid foundation for playing the harp in this article from the January-February 2009 issue of Harp Column. Download it now

How to Close and Follow Through

Harp Column Academy master teacher Jaymee Haefner shows how to execute proper closing technique.

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Day 10

Today’s Topic: Closing and following through (part 1)

Where do your fingers go after they play a string?

Suggested goal: Where do your fingers go after they release the strings? Do they follow through into your palm or stop short? Make sure your fingers make it back home to your palm and aren’t suspended in mid-air.

Practice Tip: Take a look in the mirror.

Pull your wardrobe mirror out of your closet and set it up next to your harp. Being able to see how your hands are working from a perspective can help you make adjustments in your technique.

Further Inspiration

Throughout our challenge we’ll be posting links to Harp Column articles and videos that address the topics of the day. If you are a Harp Column subscriber or Harp Column Academy member, login to each site for access. 

Close Call: Crash course in closing

In this article from Harp Column Academy Forum expert Chilali Hugo, find out the keys to closing and how to build the muscle memory to ensure you close consistently. Find it in our May-June 2006 issue. Download it now

How to Close and Follow Through

In this video from master teacher Lynne Aspnes, you will learn how to close and follow through, the final critical step in creating a beautiful sound.

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Day 9

Today’s Topic: Articulation

How do you pluck the string?

Suggested goal: Articulation is really about how you play the string. Instead of plucking or pulling the string, focus on pushing or digging into the string and then bouncing off or releasing.

Practice Tip: Get in the zone.

Make your practice time a distraction-free zone. Before you sit down on your bench, eat a snack, take the dog out, silence your cell phone, change the laundry, grab a glass of water. When you sit down at the harp, make sure you have everything you need within reach—pencil, metronome, tuner, tuning key, music, and laser-like focus!

Further Inspiration

Throughout our challenge we’ll be posting links to Harp Column articles and videos that address the topics of the day. If you are a Harp Column subscriber or Harp Column Academy member, login to each site for access. 

How Method Books Can Improve Your Playing

It might be difficult to get excited about method books, but Susan Bennett Brady shows you how they provide something for everyone—basics for beginners, motivation for advanced students, direction for teachers, and a reference for professionals, all in one book! This article can be found in our Spetember-October 2009 issue. Download it now

How to Articulate

Understanding articulation is crucial to creating a beautiful sound on the harp. Lynne Aspnes shows you how to articulate to create the sound you want in this video.

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Day 8

Today’s Topic: Creating a Good Sound (part 3)

Really? Three days on sound? You betcha! We could spend an entire month on it, after all, sound is why we play the harp.

Suggested goal: Take what you have learned about your sound production, and incorporate it into your daily warm-up. Don’t stop listening and striving for that beautiful sound once you start playing notes.

Practice Tip: Record and listen to yourself

When you listen to yourself play without the distraction of actually playing, what do you hear? Does it match what you hear while you’re playing? Are you happy with the sound you hear on the recording?

Further Inspiration

Throughout our challenge we’ll be posting links to Harp Column articles and videos that address the topics of the day. If you are a Harp Column subscriber or Harp Column Academy member, login to each site for access. 

Fire Up Your Warm Ups

“Consider your warm ups to be the ingredients in a recipe of practice time. The better the ingredients, the better the final product,” writes Jaymee Haefner in this Harmonic Curve article from our May/June 2016 issue. Find out how to create a a warm-up recipe your body will love. Read the article

How to Create a Good Tone

Good tone is not one-size-fits-all on the lever harp. Master teacher Sunita Staneslow shows you what to listen and watch for in building beautiful tone on the lever harp.

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Day 7

Today’s Topic: Creating a Good Sound (part 2)

Let’s keep focusing on sound. It’s the fine line that separates a good player from an extraordinary player.

Suggested goal: Pick up where you left off yesterday. Listen to yourself. Listen to your individual fingers, and all your fingers together. Do you like what you hear? Learn how to really listen honestly to your sound, so that you can do it every time you sit down to practice.

Practice Tip: Practice smarter, not longer

It doesn’t matter if you practice one hour a day—or 10—if you’re not practicing smart. Have a plan and work on what needs work, not what you can already play.

Further Inspiration

Throughout our challenge we’ll be posting links to Harp Column articles and videos that address the topics of the day. If you are a Harp Column subscriber or Harp Column Academy member, login to each site for access. 

Studies, Techniques, and Repertoire for Tone Production

Legendary harp pedagogues Susann McDonald and Linda Wood discuss how they teach tone production to their students in this article from Harp Column’s March-April 2009 issue. Download it now.

How to Build Beautiful Tone Production

Harp Column Academy master teacher Isabelle Perrin demonstrates how to build a beautiful tone.

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Day 6

Today’s Topic: Creating a Good Sound (part 1)

What do you sound like? Do you like your sound? Have you thought about what makes a good sound?

Suggested goal: Listen to yourself. Do you like what you hear when you play? Do you hear an even sound? Do you hear a clean sound? If you answered no to any of these questions, try to identify what you could be doing differently to achieve the sound you want.

Practice Tip: Create an ideal space

Does your practice space make you happy? Is it free from distractions and interruptions? Take some time at the beginning of the year to make your space a place where you want to be and spend time!

Further Inspiration

Throughout our challenge we’ll be posting links to Harp Column articles and videos that address the topics of the day. If you are a Harp Column subscriber or Harp Column Academy member, login to each site for access. 

Creating Beautiful Tone

Jaymee Haefner describes how to create a beautiful tone in her article from the January-February 2010 issue of Harp Column. Download it now.

Creating a Beautiful Sound

Harp Column Academy master teacher Lynne Aspnes shows how to create a beautiful sound.

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Day 5

Today’s Topic: Playing multiple fingers

Is your finger action helping you achieve the sound you want?

Suggested goal: Spend time looking at how your fingers work together on the strings. Are they aligned together? When you play an unbroken chord, can you hear each note evenly? Pick a slow etude—maybe using chords—and listen to make sure your fingers are producing an even, consistent sound.

Practice Tip: Practice Mindfully

Where are your thoughts when you’re at the harp? If you’re thinking about what to make for dinner, you’re not getting the most out of your practice time. Empty your mind from everything but the task at hand. If this is difficult for you, choose a technical element to focus on, such as the feeling of your finger on the string, and try to refocus on that element every time you catch yourself thinking non-musical thoughts.

Further Inspiration

Throughout our challenge we’ll be posting links to Harp Column articles and videos that address the topics of the day. If you are a Harp Column subscriber or Harp Column Academy member, login to each site for access. 

5 Warmups for the Practical Harpist

How do you warm up? Kristina Finch gathered tips from experts in her recent blog for Harp Column. (Read for free now.)

Playing Multiple Fingers

Harp Column Academy master teacher Jaymee Haefner shows how to play multiple fingers together.

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Day 4

Today’s topic: Playing a Single Finger

How does your finger connect with the string to achieve the sound you want?

Suggested goal: Take a look at your fingers on the strings. Examine every aspect of where each finger touches the string, and the follow through motion when you play. Are you gripping the string fully with the flesh of your finger? Does your finger close into your palm—not away from it—when you engage it? Examine how each finger behaves when you play it individually, and identify whether your finger action is helping you achieving the results you want.

Practice Tip: Repeat, repeat, repeat

Repetition is the key to building muscle memory. But take note of today’s inspirational quote: practice makes permanent, so be sure you’re doing it right!

Further Inspiration

Throughout our challenge we’ll be posting links to Harp Column articles and videos that address the topics of the day. If you are a Harp Column subscriber or Harp Column Academy member, login to each site for access. 

10 Technique Prescriptions

The doctor will see you now! Expert teachers weigh in with their prescriptions to cure ten common technique troubles in this article from our January-February 2011 issue. Download it now.

Playing a Single Finger

Harp Column Academy master teacher Jaymee Haefner shows how to build a good finger action, one finger at a time.

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Day 3

Today’s Topic: Sitting at the Harp

Is your posture everything it can be?

Suggested goal: Think about how you’re sitting at the harp. Is your bench at a height that enables you to play your best? Can you easily reach pedals or levers? Is the harp balanced so you can play easily, without fear of losing control of the instrument?

Practice Tip: Incorporate technique exercises into your daily practice.

Technique exercises are like leafy green vegetables: you may not like them, but there’s no denying they’re good for you.

Further Inspiration

Throughout our challenge we’ll be posting links to Harp Column articles and videos that address the topics of the day. If you are a Harp Column subscriber or Harp Column Academy member, login to each site for access. 

How to Sit at the Harp

Harp Column Academy master teacher Jaymee Haefner shows how to find the perfect sitting position.

Balance Points

Achieve balance in your body to make better music. Read Jaymee’s article from our March-April 2016 issue.

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Day 2

Today’s Topic: Hand Position (part 2)

How do you bring your hands to the harp? Is it the same every time? Is it relaxed and consistent or stiff and uncomfortable? What happens before your fingers touch the strings is critical for building a comfortable, reliable hand position.

Suggested goal: If you have never thought about how you bring your hands to the strings, spend some time looking at them. Make sure your approach is relaxed and consistent. Look at shape of each hand on the strings to make sure it is round and supple. Check the roll of your forearm and the angle of your wrist to make sure they are allowing your hand to work easily without tension. Try experimenting with small changes in your forearm, wrist, and hands to see if they improve or impede your playing.

Practice Tip: Keep a practice log

Click to download the practice log.

Set goals for each practice session and record what you accomplished. (Download our practice log, right.)

Further Inspiration

A New Attitude About Etudes

Call them old-fashioned, call them simple, call them what you like—pound for pound there is no better way to improve your technique than by adding a healthy dose of etudes to your diet. Carl Swanson shows how in this feature article from our January-February 2008 issue. Download this issue to see the entire article.

How to Build Hand Position

Harp Column Academy master teacher Lynne Aspnes defines a great hand position.

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Day 1

Topic: Hand Position

Are you paying attention to all the elements that create a stable hand position—the foundation for everything you do at the harp? Is your hand position something that you’ve carefully cultivated, or left to random chance?

Suggested goal: Spend time today analyzing your hand position. Pick a very easy etude—or just play each finger one at a time—and play slowly! Ask yourself if your hand position is helping you achieve the end result you want. If not, how can you improve it?

Practice Tip: Practice in Little Sections

Focused, short practice gets better results than long, sloppy practice.

Further Inspiration

Throughout our challenge we’ll be posting links to Harp Column articles and videos that address the topics of the day. If you are a Harp Column subscriber or Harp Column Academy member, login to each site for access. 

How to Build Hand Position

Harp Column Academy master teacher Jaymee Haefner shows what you need to know to build a great hand position.

12 Practice Tips for the New Year

This feature article from our January-February 2007 issue gives great advice you can use year round. Download this issue to see the entire article. We’ll also be printing tips from the article throughout the challenge.

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Check us out on Facebook

As part of the 30 Day Practice Challenge we hosted three live videos on our Facebook page. Check out these great demos:

  • Arpeggios with Harp Column Academy master teacher Lynne Aspnes
  • Crossunders with Harp Column Academy forum expert Angelica Hairston
  • Simple scales with Harp Column Academy forum expert Katie Buckley

Browse to www.facebook.com/harpcolumn and click on “Videos” to see a replay. 

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About the Challenge

How it works

We challenge you to spend 20 minutes every day in January working on basic harp technique skills. Each day beginning January 1 we’ll post here and on our Facebook page letting you know the topic of the day. We’ll focus on things like hand position, scales, arpeggios, etc. Plus, we’ve got some surprise live Facebook sessions with our Harp Column Academy forum experts to motivate you.

The challenge is for all levels, beginner to advanced. Everyone will bring to the challenge their own foundation to work from.

How to participate

Sign up by January 9 using the form to the right to take part and be eligible for the prize drawing. We’ll post names (or nicknames) of all participates for extra inspiration! At the end of the month, we’ll ask you to assess your progress by checking back in with us to let us know if you’ve completed the challenge. You’re on the honor system! Everyone who has completed the challenge will be entered in a drawing to win the prizes listed below.

Prizes

Grand Prize

We will feature you and your practice story in a Harp Column podcast and in an upcoming print edition of Harp Column. Plus, you’ll receive a free one-year membership to Harp Column Academy ($49.95 value); a free one-year subscription to Harp Column Magazine ($39.95 value); and a $50 gift certificate to Harp Column Music. (Winners outside the U.S. will receive the digital edition of Harp Column.)

Other Prizes
  • We’re giving away three one-year memberships to Harp Column Academy!
  • Three lucky winners will receive a one-year subscription to Harp Column magazine! (Winners outside the U.S. will receive our digital edition.)
  • We’re giving away three $50 gift certificates to Harp Column Music.

Plus, everyone who completes the challenge will have their name listed on our challenge wall of fame!

What are you waiting for? Join Harp Column’s 30 day practice challenge now!

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Profile photo of Harp Column Staff

The Harp Column Staff has been bringing you great editorial content, interviews, features, and reviews since 1993!

91 Comments

  1. Profile photo of Janice

    Just finished my first practice session. I’m thinking this practice challenge will be a really good idea. I’m always trying to get through new repertoire to prepare for my next lesson and often fail to take the time to really focus on the technique -which of course is the most important part!
    I also was unable to download the Jan-Feb 2007 magazine. Other magazine editions downloaded just fine so it must be something with the website. Thanks

  2. Profile photo of Alison Reese

    Congrats on finishing your first practice session, 30-dayers! It looks like we are having a problem with the article access right now. If you are a subscriber, please email us and we will make sure you get a copy of the article. Hopefully we will have it fixed by Day 2 of the challenge!

    –Alison for the Harp Column Team

    • Profile photo of momleake

      I am also having difficulty getting the past issue downloaded.
      I loved the challenge for today on hand positioning. I slowed down the songs I was practicing and focused on my hands. I found places where I had become a bit lazy and worked on that section. It was amazing how much easier it was to play when I had my hands positioned correctly with my thumbs up high .
      Thanks for offering this challenge.
      Becky Leake

  3. Profile photo of hollyloreen

    I’m loving this challenge. It is making me be more aware in my practicing…hence, more focused. I do want to read the article in the 2007 issue so I will try emailing you to get that as the link doesn’t work for me as well. It is perfect timing to have this challenge because last month I wrote in my goals to be more efficient in my practicing this year. Yay!!!

  4. Profile photo of Kathleen Matthews

    I’m a student of the Celtic harp and have been playing a little over two years. Thank you for a challenge that is accessible for beginners. Slowing down to focus on hand position greatly improved my tone today. I look forward to tomorrow’s practice prompt.
    Kathy Matthews
    Lomita, CA

  5. Profile photo of Faye Fishman

    Thanks for emailing the download from Jan. 1st. the link does appear to be working now for anyone who couldn’t access it.
    This is a wonderful challenge. I am keeping my own “diary” for my takeaways. I am finding it a great review and to see and correct what has gotten “sloppy”. I look forward to it each morning.

  6. Profile photo of Meagan Alphonso

    Thank you for this lovely challenge. Totally loving it. Great way to start the New Year. Please do mail me the link to the Jan 2006 issue. I can view it on my iPad but it isn’t getting downloaded like the others do. A bit absurd.

  7. Profile photo of Harp Column Staff

    A million thanks to everyone who has entered the challenge! We’re glad so many of you are having fun with it. Please keep the comments coming to let us know how you’re doing. We’d like to keep the comments focussed on the challenge, so if you have customer support questions, don’t hesitate to email us at info@harpcolumn.com, where we can help you more quickly. Also just a reminder that if you are having trouble downloading back issues, be sure you’re logged in using the account associated with your subscription. If you’re experiencing any trouble at all, just email us!

  8. Profile photo of Faye Fishman

    Day 3 question- any suggestions for people on the petite side (4’11”)–heels on the floor is rough. If you have the bench low enough then it’s too low. I just got a Camac Ulysses which is lower but don’t want to look hunched over, but at least my heels are flat on the ground.

    I have a Lyon & Healy 85P for just that reason and wear heels even when playing the Celtic harp for a gig. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

    • Profile photo of reyesarpa

      Hi Faye, I´m not tall either (159cm) and most of the teachers I had, even when attending to masterclasses, recommended that I practice with high heels. At first, I didn´t bother but when I heard again the same thing from yet another teacher (one who was even shorter than me), I decided I should give it a try. My life has changed a lot since then! I can seat at the proper height so I reach the strings without having to raise my arms too much and my feet rest properly too, so my back doesn´t suffer from tension anymore. I keep my old concert shoes next to the harp and wear them every time I practice.

    • Profile photo of jaymee-haefner

      That’s a great question! The key is that you really have to modify so that the angle of your legs is correct. For me, heels cause low back pain because it raises my knees too high as relative with my hips. However, I’ve had plenty of students for whom heels corrected this angle. So, the key is that it’s really individual. If the heels help your legs and back feel better, then I’d recommend them. Secondly, I’ve found that some of the yoga stretches (especially Malasana) can help with the “heels on the ground” challenge. Happy to answer further questions, so keep them coming!

  9. Profile photo of Carole Smith

    This challenge has eliminated a large hurdle to my practice. In the past, I thought I needed to reserve an hour or more for practice. If the day got busy, I would just skip practice. Now that I can consider 20 minutes as acceptable time on the harp, I don’t skip daily work. It’s funny, because the 20 minutes has, so far, stretched out to the one hour that I’m used to. But it’s the 20 minutes that encourages me to get to the harp. Also, thanks for the lesson on hand position. I’m revisiting things I learned 15 years ago and forgot about during the last 12 years.

  10. Profile photo of jane

    Thanks so much for doing this! I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to keep up, but the focus on fundamentals is terrific. I’ve only been playing for a few years and couldn’t read music when I started. I also have tremors in my hands (hereditary nuisance.) So slow is good! I’ve used the first couple of days to work on hand shapes for 10ths and inverted chords.

  11. Profile photo of faith Hamilton -Trent

    What a wonderful challenge this is…well-constructed with concise lessons from accomplished teachers. I live in an area where harpists are few and far between, so it is really exciting to receive expert guidance via my computer. I especially love the repertoire demonstrations on the Harp Academy site. Thank you for offering this valuable opportunity to learn, HC!

  12. Profile photo of Faye Fishman

    I am really enjoying and getting a lot out of this challenge. And when I go to my lesson and tell my teacher I want to work on technique, she’s thrilled.
    I see that I really need to work on relaxing between each movement which my teacher does stress. I still find I have pain in my right shoulder blade when playing in the higher octaves. I will say tone is much better with relaxing fingers, hand, AND Forearm. Excellent article. (I did notice a really good article on arpeggios while scrolling through as well 🙂 )– need to review my copies of Harp Column more often.
    Thanks again, this is marvelous. I really look forward to it.

  13. Profile photo of literaqueen

    Hey, it worked this time! Yay! I’m loving the focus this provides. Yesterday I thought, “Seriously? 20 minutes focusing on how I sit at the harp? How am I going to fill the time?” But I played with balance points, focused on how I shift my posture depending on how high up on the harp I’m playing, and experimented with where to sit in relation to the pedals. Fantastic!

  14. Profile photo of Melissa Gallant

    The challenge is great for all levels! A high school student of mine mentioned her shoulders feeling tight due to being nervous about driving in the snow today. I thought that was a good point to mention. When we feel clenched up from driving, then sit down to play the harp, it is a good idea to stretch and relax our shoulder muscles in order to play comfortably at the harp.

  15. Profile photo of atagalong

    I am very new to playing a harp. It was something that I always wanted to learn and decided that despite my age, I will learn to play. I really want to someday do therapy harp- I have 2 therapy dogs and it is so rewarding. I had to start from the beginning as I did not even read music. This challenge is wonderful- some of the things I cannot really do yet, but I practice for at least an hour or two a day and play intermitently during the day. My dogs love when I play (or rather try to play) and lay next to the harp. Thank you for offering this challenge and all the information. I hope that by the end of the year- which will be my first year of playing, that I can accomplish more. I love playing and learning- thank you for this opportunity to further my learning.

    • Profile photo of Daelightful

      Hi, I came to the harp in my mid 50s, took a couple years of lessons, and then had a big break. I am certified music provider, Music for Healing and Transition, and advisor for the program. I have played acoustic fingerstyle/classical guitar for over 40 years and other instruments too. I have been back with lessons for almost two years and am now in my 60s. My progress is going faster now. I like the challenge as well. It really gives you a focus for thought even while doing regular practice.
      I read about the shorter ladies wearing heels to play harp on this comment list and that is a great idea! I wish you a very wonderful 2017.

  16. Profile photo of Betsy Chapman

    I had to laugh – after the Day 2 study – “How do you bring your hands to the harp?” I had an archery lesson yesterday and my coach said “Look at how you’re bringing you left hand to the bow”! Funny how some concepts resonate from our harp practice through other aspects of life. And I had never even though about this in either discipline! I’m enjoying the freedom to spend 20 minutes a day on these techniques and getting away from worrying about tackling that next piece of music or what I “should” be able to play. This was a great idea, thanks HC!

  17. Profile photo of Lauren C

    I’m enjoying these. As someone who is only three weeks into learning how to play the harp, the challenges are especially helpful as I need to work on a bit of everything. I love the harp so incredibly much, I am so glad I decided to start playing even though I’m 25 years old. It’s never too late to learn something new!

  18. Profile photo of Faye Fishman

    today’s download talked about taking care of your hands. On a Harp Column board someone suggested goat soap and I tried it and it’s wonderful. it’s not drying. I fell off a horse 2 years ago and broke my wrist and purchased a paraffin bath. Glad I have it, it’s great in the winter, so that’s another possibility.

    One suggestion, I find there’s not enough room on m y Practice challenge sheet . I usually run out of room on the takeaways! I particularly found the explanation of which knuckle does what action very interesting and useful.

  19. Profile photo of phs

    This is one of the best things I’ve done for myself for a long time. As a full time harp therapist, the majority of my time is spent with my small therapy harp.

    How wonderful it is to give myself those twenty minutes of time at my big harp, and to go back to basics and enjoy the string spacing, tension and huge, full sound. I actually set the timer on my stove for 25 minutes, and am always amazed how fast time goes, and how much I’m enjoying the technique practice.

    The videos are so helpful, and so well done, and my husband and granddaughter watch them with me. Much better than television!

    The one issue I’m rediscovering is that because my harp is very wide at the top, and my arms are slightly short for my height, when I work on position, I’m finding that my right upper arm and shoulder become tired quickly, with some pain. The way we’re both built, I have to hold my right elbow a bit higher to avoid resting on the board. I don’t know if the ache and fatigue is just because I’m out of shape, so to speak, not playing the big harp as much.( In retrospect, I probably should have purchased a not-quite-so-wide harp, but the sound had me from the start..) Any thoughts would be much appreciated.

    Thank you for this wonderful challenge, and as I always find, the more time I spend at the harp, the more the benefits spill over into the rest of my life.

    • Profile photo of Harp Column Staff

      Hi, PHS. We are so glad to hear that you are getting a lot out of this practice challenge. We couldn’t agree more that the more time you spend at the harp, the more the benefits spill over into the rest of your life!

      Regarding your question about the width and weight of your harp causing fatigue and pain, I would definitely bring this up with your private teacher, if you have one. If you are sitting at the correct height, forward on your bench, and the right distance from your harp, the harp’s weight should find its natural balance point and not cause you too much trouble.

      Good luck with the challenge!

      • Profile photo of phs

        Thank you so much for the reply. I’ve been playing this harp for at least 15 years now, and hadn’t had pain before. I went back and watched the video for sitting at the harp over several times, and checked my position, made some small but significant adjustments, and things are going much better.

        As my teacher is ten hours away, I don’t see her often, and the focus has been on the therapy harp. This practice challenge has been truly helpful in bringing me back to my full size harp, and is a really fun and challenging experience. I’m broadening my horizons again, and looking ahead to some exciting projects, thanks to this challenge. Thank you !

  20. Profile photo of momleake

    Week 1 has been amazing! I live 3 hours away from my harp teacher and don’t make it over in the winter. This challenge has helped me with going back to the basics, slowing down and focusing on the correct techniques taught to me by my teacher. It has also made me sit down with my harps each and every day if only to practice my basic skills. I didn’t know about the Harp Column Academy until this challenge. I have really enjoyed viewing the lessons and the repertoire sections. Thank you, thank you, thank you for providing this challenge.

  21. Profile photo of sarah jane jones

    I love the topics you have discussed so far in the 30 Day Challenge but find it so frustrating that I cannot access the videos/articles/master teacher tips as I am not a paid subscriber to Harp Column Magazine, just a member. Don’t suppose I could pay a one-off fee to access the information for this month?

    • Profile photo of Kimberly Rowe

      Sarah, I’m sorry this is frustrating for you! The links are provided as a way to dig deeper into topics for those who want to, but you can absolutely do the challenge without them. We are so excited about how many people are getting so much out of this.

      As the founder of Harp Column, I wanted to give a little more perspective about why we’re including these links. We started publishing Harp Column in 1993!!! I can’t believe it’s been almost 25 years. During that time we’ve amassed a huge quantity of valuable technique resources, and we wanted to be sure our subscribers realized that this information is available to them in our back issues. Coming up on Day 11, we’re going to be linking to a fabulous article written for us by legendary teachers Susann McDonald and Linda Rollo. I had complete forgotten we had published this article, and I’m sure many of our readers have too! So, that’s where we’re coming from. We just want to remind people what’s available, and the challenge is a perfect way for us to showcase this information.

    • Profile photo of Harp Column Staff

      Sarah—While we don’t offer a one-month subscription to Harp Column magazine, we do offer a one-month membership option for Harp Column Academy (see all the options at https://harpcolumnacademy.com/join/). We also make one of our instructional videos available free of charge so you can get a sense of what the videos are like on Harp Column Academy. You can view it by clicking on the “watch a lesson” button at https://harpcolumnacademy.com/about/. Hope this helps!

  22. Profile photo of jane

    The sound of a harp is the only reason I’ve been able to learn to play one. Even finger exercises sound fantastic on a harp, so practicing is pleasant–I don’t feel like I have to apologize to the neighbors, and mistakes don’t make me cringe.
    I’m away from home for the first half of the Challenge, in a really small town, so I rented an ancient Harp-Shaped Object. It’s an excellent illustration of how much form matters to sound quality. If I really focus I can produce a reasonable tone, but if I’m at all careless it sounds like a cigar-box banjo.

  23. Profile photo of Jan

    I am enjoying this challenge now..at first it was overwhelming me, but at about day 3 I decided to simply do the challenge and only the challenge (20 min technique) each day.No other additions. I need technique practice. It is what I ignore the most because I want to hear beautiful music. So deciding to simply stick to this technique only portion for 30 days I think is going to pay off. I have very weak technique “muscles” but I feel them growing due to this habit forming and mental shift off beautiful “music” to the foundations that create that beauty.

  24. Profile photo of holly1

    Hi, Do i need to buy a membership to Harp Academy in order to access the lesson links? I just joined the challenge and wanted to access “How to Build Hand Position”, but it doesn’t allow me to. Thanks.

  25. Profile photo of Margaret Skelley

    WOW!!! I have totally surprised myself and this is only Day 9… I started learning the harp after I turned 60 and have absolutely totally enjoyed the journey. Your tips are so well organised and the tutorials very well done, clear and informative. I can feel and hear the difference in my playing already. And I love perusing those older copies of your publication which I know came with my subscription but I had not gone there before. What a wonderful way to start a new year – so focussed and positive. Thank you Harp Column.

  26. Profile photo of jane

    I also wish that at least some of the videos and articles were available to non-subscribers during the Challenge, so I could get an idea of what’s on the site. I’ve thought about subscribing for a couple of years, but can’t decide if it’s right for me. Just like music, really–i have to try a piece before I decide whether I want to learn it. Still, just doing the Challenge is fun.

  27. Profile photo of hollyloreen

    I started this 30 day challenge forgetting I had a trip to Hawaii planned. So I set aside my pedal harp, packed up my little Triplett Zephyr and headed to Hawaii. I’ve been practicing etudes and intervals, hand placements, etc., on the beach. It has been wonderful. Thank you for the challenge. I have learned so much!!!
    (I tried to post a picture but it wouldn’t let me.)

  28. Profile photo of phs

    I have made more progress, learned and re-learned more, and seen more results doing this than any other challenge I’ve ever taken part in. And that doesn’t even take into account the joy experienced while playing my harp, even while focusing on technique. I love the articles, the videos and reading the comments and feedback. Watching the videos makes me feel as if I’m meeting these wonderful persons face to face.

    Thank you so much for giving me a reason to make the easiest commitment to myself in a long time. (If a weight loss commitment could be this easy and enjoyable, my body would look fantastic! Well, perhaps…)

  29. Profile photo of jane

    Any exercises for strengthening left 3 and 4 fingers? Intervals really showed me the difference between L and R hand control, especially with 3rd and 4th, and arpeggios are the same.

  30. Profile photo of Robyn Bish

    Thanks for putting the 30 day challenge together. I would like to purpose that this be an annual event. As an adult student I have benefited from the daily focus areas and past date articles. It’s like having an extra tutor to focus on details in between lessons. Thanks

  31. Profile photo of Lea Masiello

    I continue to get a great deal out of the videos. They have helped me focus on particular elements of technique. They reinforce what my teacher has told me, and often offer a new way of thinking about particular elements. I watch them all!

  32. Profile photo of Carol Freshour

    I fell behind a bit on the ‘daily’ aspect. . . but then as part of getting back on track I went ahead and registered for HC Academy. What a resource! Now I have to be careful that I don’t watch too many videos in one sitting, and overload my brain. Thanks for the Challenge!
    CarolAnn

  33. Profile photo of Lynn & Martha Bailey

    Hi. I am Martha Bailey and my husband and I have signed up for the 30 day practice challenge and we have been very diligent in fulfilling that challenge. Both of us have benefited from the experience. It was like we were given permission to put aside repertoire and work on technique. The quotes at the beginning of the day were especially inspiring. We moved from San Jose, CA to Asheville, NC in the last 6 months and were out of daily practice habit due to the move and fixing up the house. This has put us back in the habit of the daily experience of what the harp can teach us and we are again loving the harp! Martha Bailey

  34. Profile photo of Kate Stratton

    this is wonderful. i happily emailed my former instr with kudos! i can DO these! i am aware of much more than i thought. so far, so good! YES
    now, what i really lack is agility… no magic potion for that, i suppose? 🙂

  35. Profile photo of Faye Fishman

    I look forward every morning to see what’s new in the challenge. I also love the download articles and I skim the rest of the magazine for other gems. There have been several good articles on tuning (one was in today’s download).
    I think my best take-away so far was lining up a pencil when doing crossunders and where to have the weight in your hand so your fingers don’t fall off the strings. Spent my 20 minutes seeing the difference of equal weight in fingers 1 and 4 and unequal weight. And when I used the pencil I realized I wasn’t reaching as low as I should be with my 4th finger. Eye opening! So thanks, this continues to be a wonderful refresher course as well as new learning experience.

  36. Profile photo of Laure

    I look forward to each email to see what the day’s challenge will be. I am truly enjoying the review. Also, it’s fun looking back at old issues. All of which I have in printed form and have read before. Thank you for putting this challenge together to help us.

  37. Profile photo of diane-waddington

    I have enjoyed the 30 day Harp Challenge and the references to the back issue articles. As I finish my Harp Column Magazine, I pass along to my teacher for her younger students. At this time, I cannot afford the Harp Column Academy so could not take advantage of that section. If you have the Challenge again, you might see if some of those videos or similar videos could be viewed by Harp Column Subscription holders. Thanks for the Challenge!

  38. Profile photo of Harp Column Staff

    Thanks for all the great comments everyone! We can’t tell you how much we appreciate your feedback.

    We also can’t believe we’re nearing the end of the challenge! Just a heads up on how to finish: we’ll be posting a form January 30 in the sidebar on this page. The deadline to submit the challenge form—and be entered in the prize drawing—is midnight EST February 1. We’ll announce winners shortly thereafter.

  39. Profile photo of Christina Maree

    Thank you for the challenge — it has kept my harp practice going through a time of work deadlines. Except for falling on ice one day, I’ve managed to get to my harp every day in January, with some practice sessions going longer!

    As a possible improvement for the next challenge, perhaps the video for the topic of the day could be accessed by challengeers for the 24 hours of the topic. It was very helpful to access the magazine articles (I am already a subscriber). Sometimes I looked for other harp technique videos online to help clarify a technical detail for my practice for that day.

    Thanks for providing a community for a wide range of harp players. I love the podcast, too!

  40. Profile photo of joan-steinberg

    I have really been enjoying this challenge. As a professional harpist who has not had a lesson since college MANY years ago, it has been so helpful to try and improve my playing one day and aspect at a time. Sometimes it’s so tempting to practice on auto pilot and not think about each finger, each movement, etc.

  41. Profile photo of faith Hamilton -Trent

    The 30-day challenge has been a wonderful resource, rich with advice from great teachers and packed with valuable information. Although I wasn’t able to meet the daily challenge (unexpected life events got in the way), I’ll finish on my own schedule and celebrate the experience. Thanks so much for structuring the Harp Academy in such a friendly, encouraging way!

  42. Profile photo of Harp Column Staff

    Congratulations to all of you! We are FINISHED with the 30 Day Practice Challenge! Thanks for the many wonderful comments. We hope you enjoyed it as much as we did. Don’t forget to complete the challenge by submitting the form at the top right of this page. The deadline to submit the form and be entered to win prizes is midnight EST on Wed. February 1. We’ll announce the winners soon after that!

  43. Profile photo of bpbecampos

    I loved this challenge so much. I’ve been a musician for 40+ years (flute = treble clef) and took on the harp when I turned 50 learning the bass clef. Needless to say, it’s been a big challenge adjusting 40 year of habits. This challenge was perfect for me. My techniques have definitely improved. Thanks so much for doing it. And today, I REALLY missed my morning challenge email from y’all!!

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